Swarm of Earthquakes In Yellowstone Renews Fears Of Supervolcano Eruption

Many believe that the COVID-19 pandemic serves a purpose- to teach us all a lesson. A lot of them claim that we have neglected our connection to Nature, so we ended up passive, locked inside our homes.

On the other hand, Nature is active and mighty, and in many aspects, it seems revived during the lockdown period.

The area around Yellowstone National Park is currently monitored by the US Geological Survey after a swarm of earthquakes renewed the concern over the underground volcano.

The US Geological Survey says the chances are very low, only one in 730,000, that the Yellowstone supervolcano will erupt this year. However, a supervolcano eruption would release the equivalent of 1,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs and wreak unprecedented destruction.

Last month, the area West Yellowstone in Montana reported a total of 34 low-magnitude earthquakes, but they extended three miles underground. The strongest one measured a magnitude of 3.1.

According to Yellowstone National Park’s website:

“Yellowstone is one of the most seismically active areas in the United States…. Approximately 700 to 3,000 earthquakes occur each year in the Yellowstone area; most are not felt. They result from the extensive network of faults associated with the volcano and surrounding tectonic features.”

Park officials explain that earthquakes result from volcanic fluids entering shallow rock fractures. The park sits atop one of the only three supervolcanos in the US.

According to scientists, the Yellowstone volcano is about 34 by 45 miles wide and only three miles below the surface, and it is contained within three overlapping calderas that represent past eruptions from hundreds of thousands and even millions of years ago.

The last eruption dumped over 2,000 times the amount of ash as the Mount St. Helens eruption, which then killed 57 people and deposited ash in 11 different states and five Canadian provinces.

Swarms of earthquakes are common in the area.

The website continues:

“Yellowstone commonly experiences “earthquake swarms”—a series of earthquakes over a short period in a localized area. The largest swarm occurred in 1985, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded during three months on the northwest side of the park.

Hundreds of quakes were recorded during swarms in 2009 near Lake Village and 2010 between Old Faithful area and West Yellowstone. Scientists posit these swarms are due to shifting and changing pressures in the Earth’s crust that are caused by migration of hydrothermal fluids, a natural occurrence of volcanoes.”

Yet, if the supervolcano did go off, it would definitely be a game-changer, as explained in a BBC feature: “The sky will darken, black rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter.”

With hundreds of thousands of years having passed since the last major eruption, even if Yellowstone was edging closer to exploding, it is still thousands of years away.

On the other hand, volcanists claim that larger earthquakes and hydrothermal blasts could become more dangerous to the millions of tourists that visit the park. More than 300 people have died at the park over the years in accidents like succumbing to the fumes emitted by hydrothermal vents, driving off of 800-foot cliffs, and unknowingly diving into 200-degree boiling water.